Camping with kids is a lot of WORK. Which kind of makes going for just one night not feel very fulfilling. That's why I love three day weekends because we can camp over a Sunday without it being one of the days that we are setting up/taking down and we can just relax, enjoy nature and each other. The kids loved starting each morning with hot chocolate and we went really low-key on all meals except dinner so usually we just had cereal or bagels and bananas for breakfast. BUT when we were at the farmer's market on Saturday, we bought a loaf of this homemade pineapple carrot cake that we knew would make for a tasty breakfast the next two mornings...and I need to make this now that we are home because it was SO good.
Fun tip for camping with kids: don't rely on "exploring" and "throwing rocks" to keep your kids entertained for 3 days. While they did plenty of that, I'm so glad I packed some familiar things that made each day kind of special. On Sunday morning we read a scripture story from their little picture scripture book and then had them try and make a scene from the story using play dough that I brought. Ava loves the story of Jesus being born so she made a manger with Mary and Joseph :) I can't even remember what Owen was making but he had fun pressing things into the play dough to make different designs, like these different pine branches.
Lucy was a peach for pretty much all of the trip except when she had to get put down on some weird surface like a camp chair to get her diaper changed, ha. The car seat came in very handy though when we needed to put her down while cooking, cleaning, playing, etc. I even brought it down to the river so she could hang out with me on the bank while Devin and the kids swam. I think she just really loved being outside the whole time. She actually cried for like 15 minutes straight soon after we got home - nothing I could do would calm her down and I seriously felt like she was mad that we weren't camping still, haha!
We got smart on Sunday and moved our big canopy so that it was over our tent, to keep it from heating up like an oven like it did on Saturday. We stayed around the campsite through the morning reading, etc. while it was still somewhat cool and then headed down to the river to spent the hot, hot afternoon. Kids brought their toys so Devin could relax a little, I brought some reading down to read while Lucy napped by me. The water was so clear, Devin and the kids were able to find some really cool things like oysters and pretty rocks.
Owen was constantly building "fires" with random things he found by the river and Ava always brought me pretty purple flowers :) I brought paints and paintbrushes, so while our dinner was finishing cooking in the dutch oven, the kids got to paint some rocks that they collected. Of course they mixed all the colors and it turned into this pretty sunset color on all the rocks so now Owen uses them to make "fires" in our dirt pile at home.
Dinner was 7 Up chicken, which Ava helped make by shaking the bag that had the chicken and flour mixture in it. We fried that up, then stuck the potatoes, carrots, onions on top, seasoned, and poured the 7 up over and let it cook for about 3 hours and threw some cheese on top at the end. So yummy!
We thought we'd be camping at a place with a firepit (and a big resevoir, which is why we had the boat, ha!) so we brought stuff to make Woof-ems. Since we couldn't do a fire we tried to bake the biscuits in the dutch oven which was really tricky to keep the bottoms from burning. We realize we should have taken the biscuits out a couple hours before we wanted to have them and kind of let them warm/rise which probably would have kept cooking time shorter in the dutch oven so the bottoms wouldn't burn. But Devin flipped them every once and a while and it did the job, just had to peel a layer off of some ;) Then topped with cherry pie filling and whipped cream!
Took the kids on a drive again to get them to sleep that night and came across a sad site of a motorcyclist who had somehow been thrown from his motorcycle. We had initially pulled over to let an emergency vehicle pass us and then less than a mile down the road was that same emergency vehicle at the end of a driveway and lots of people standing around this motorcyclist who was laying motionless on the side of the road, his bike laying on the ground not too far away from the driveway. There were other cars parked along side of the road but we don't know if they were involved or just parked to get out and see if he was okay. We didn't see any sign of a helmet and no one was touching him or trying to help him so we wonder if he was killed instantly...we haven't been able to find an update anywhere on what happened. But, seeing stuff like that sure makes you thankful for every day. We drove slow enough by it that I could have gotten a picture but I don't think it's something I'll forget, as much as I'd like to not remember, and I even tried to keep myself from looking. I don't know how medical professionals watch stuff like this happen to people every day.
I wish we had gotten a picture of the tent set up. Devin got a great deal on some camping cots for kids that stack on top of each other like bunk beds. Then we had our queen air mattress in there with our double sleeping bag on top of it. Lucy slept in a little travel bed thing on the ground next to our mattress, and after she woke up for the first time every night I just brought her into the sleeping bag with me to nurse/keep her warm. She slept about as good as she does at home and the kids did okay too once we figured out how to keep them warm enough after the first night. We even brought the little potty training potty and kept it in the corner of the tent so Ava could pee in the middle of the night, which she did Heck, I'd be lying if I said I didn't use it during our trip. ;)
We wanted to beat the Labor Day traffic out of the mountains so we pretty much started packing up as soon as we woke up. The kids went down to the river to play while we packed/cleaned. There was SO MUCH DUST on everything, we had to just do the best we could and shake/clean it all when we got home. I made sure to snap a picture of this beautiful barn on the way out - isn't that amazing? That drive was the beginning of a very smokey week. A haze just kind of covered everything around the horizon, which gave the layers of forest kind of an ombre effect. We sure are grateful for the sacrifice and hard work that the firefighters are making to protect the beautiful lands we love.